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review 2016-02-14 00:00
The Uncommon Reader
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett A travelling library makes its weekly stop at Buckingham Palace. The Queen borrows a book. Then she discovers the joy of reading. This book started off just okay and ended worse.
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review 2015-11-13 00:00
The Uncommon Reader
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett This book was a joy to read from beginning to end. As soon as the Queen's badly behaved dogs ran into the traveling library and she discovered it's existence, I was hooked. Her transformation from nonreader, to passionate reader, to writer was truly beautiful to read. One of the most delightful parts of the book was how the Queen's advisors tried to secretly sabotage her reading and her reaction to their attempts.

One of my favorite parts was when she hid her book behind the cushion in her carriage during an event. When she returned, the book was gone. When she found out that her security had thought the book might be a "device" and destroyed it (really it was just hidden from her), she simply declared that a new copy had better find its way to her desk by morning and continued her journey, leaving behind a very unhappy staff member. It was a perfect moment.

I often found myself chuckling out loud as I read some of Her Majesty's responses to her staff and their bumbling attempts to discourage her reading. I will not give away any more of the story but I highly recommend picking this book up. I may even read it a second time!
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review 2015-07-09 22:48
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett

Quick read, very entertaining.

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review 2015-01-20 03:05
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett

When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large. 

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

Wow! Just LOVED this book. After reading this and some of his short stories, and the fact that he wrote not only the stage play but also the screenplay for its big screen translation of one of my favorite films, The History Boys, Alan Bennett is now officially on my list of favorite writers. 

 

The Uncommon Reader is a simple novella with a ton of heart. It's the story of Queen Elizabeth II losing control of her corgis one day when they won't stop barking at a traveling library van. To be polite, she boards the van, converses with the driver and a patron, Norman, who she discovers is one of her palace kitchen employees. Once she's there, she figures it would be impolite not to borrow a book, so she picks out one of an author she remembers meeting once. This one book spurs a sudden love of reading and before you know it, she has a TBR list a mile long. {Been there!}.

 

What she was finding was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do. 

 

 

 

As she discovers (or re-discovers) all these writers new to her, all the reading begins to affect the Queen as a person. Her family and palace staff begin to see her "lightening up" in demeanor, laughing and joking more, grumbling less. She becomes more philosophical about life and more empathetic to people around her. At one point, she goes so far as to call in a sick day so she can finish her book!  X-D I just found the idea of a queen "calling out of the office" hysterical.

 

Understandably, her family loves the change but her palace staff, as well as Parliament members, can't help but find it a little unsettling. To them, it somehow seems wrong to have their monarch be anything less than emotionally distanced, stoic. 

 

This little story points out so much that hardcore booknerds will find relatable -- the frustration at not having time to read all the time, not being able to read everything, the importance of that first book that sets you off on your reading life, how reading betters you as a person. Highly, highly recommend this to all the booknerds out there. Plus there's a bit of a twist in the ending that I didn't see coming at all but I was really amused by! 

 


Note For Sensitive Readers: There is one line of dialogue in this book where a character references fellatio. Within the context of the story, this part had me laughing out loud, but I thought I would mention it to readers who do not like sexual or violent material referenced in their readings. 

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text 2014-09-01 17:02
September Book a Day #1: Favorite Book(s) About Books
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
84, Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff
Lost in a Good Book - Jasper Fforde
The Well of Lost Plots - Jasper Fforde

I had a hard time picking just one, so I didn't.

 

Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader has Queen Elizabeth II becoming a voracious reader (blame her local bookmobile).

 

Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series features not only literary detectives, but jumping in and out of books, as well as footnoter phones, literary characters as detectives, and the characters of Wuthering Heights in anger management class.  (Note: read these in order or they will make no sense at all.)

 

Helene Hanff's 84, Charing Cross Road is a series of real letters exchanged between Ms. Hanff and the staff of a London bookshop from the 1940s through the end of the 60s, and is full of the love of books. 

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